Blog: From Bowring to General Accident to AIG, insurance brands reborn

AIG property casualty CEO Peter Hancock and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw

Over the last week we have seen two insurance brands of days gone past given a new lease of life.

First commercial managing general agent APC acquired Folgate Insurance from Towergate, with an eye to returning the firm - which at the time was in run-off - to active underwriting.

Towergate orignally acquired the business from German parent Wüstenrot & Württembergisch in 2002, at which point Folgate ceased writing new business, with policies transfered to Towergate's panel at renewal.

And then HW Kaufman Financial Group acquired Lloyd's broker Oval International which is to return to its original name, Lochain Patrick.

This got Postonline thinking of other insurance brands that have been resurrected. Here are four of the most notable:

1) 2008 - Marsh and Bowring

In 1980 Marsh acquired C.T. Bowring & Co, enabling it to become a Lloyd's broker. 18 years on the global broking giant resurrected the 'Bowring' name for a placement broking subsidiary focusing on property and casualty risks.

At the time Marsh said that with teams in Bermuda, Dublin, London, Miami, Singapore and Zurich, Bowring Marsh would bring placement expertise in the main international market hubs together into an integrated global network, under a "consistent and powerful brand".

That is something of an understatement - the Bowring name can be traced back to a trading, shipping and insurance business formed in 1811. It was created by English businessman Benjamin Bowring, who in 1979 had an historic ship named after him - the first vessel reportedly designed and commissioned to operate in Arctic and Antarctic conditions.

2) 2012 - the return of the McLarens name to UK loss adjusting

McLarens Young International rebranded and renamed itself as McLarens in 2012, with chief executive Vernon Chalfant saying: "Our business is known as McLarens across the globe and other people refer to us as McLarens, so why shouldn't we do the same?"

The business had been part of the Maxson Young stable ever since the merger with McLarens International in 2004, trading as McLarens Young International overseas and MYI in the UK.

The business had been forbidden from trading as McLarens in the UK following the 2001 acquisition of the domestic business of McLarens Toplis, which became known as Capita McLarens, then rebranded Teceris in 2005.
In 2011 the rights for McLarens name in the UK lapsed.

The name was first used in the UK in 1931 when McLarens Dick & Company formed in Scotland.

3) 2012 - From AIG to Chartis to AIG again

Following AIG's involvement in credit default swaps on collateralised debt obligations through its London-based Financial Products division, the historic company was effectively bailed out by the US Government in 2008.

In order to distance itself from the ills of its parent company, the European property and casualty business was rebranded as Chartis in 2009.

But the name did not catch on, and in the spring of 2012 speculation was rife that a name change was afoot with John Doyle, the chief executive officer of global commercial insurance for Chartis' property-casualty unit reportedly claiming AIG's international operations are "begging" to be rebranded as AIG.

In July the rebrand - or re-rebrand - was confirmed, with a new brand promise - "bring on tomorrow" - introduced at the end of the year.


4) 2013 - Aviva and General Accident

In 1998 General Accident and Commercial Union merged to create a business that was known as CGU. A matter of months latter Norwich Union took the fledgling operation over to create Aviva in 1999.

Having dispensed with the Norwich Union brand in 2008, the company surprised some by dipping into its past and resurrecting the General Accident brand, for a new car insurance offering for internet shoppers.

Commenting on the launch, Steve Treloar, retail director at Aviva, said: "Given the huge success of our online-only brand, Quote Me Happy, we felt there was an opportunity to use another recognisable brand from the Aviva family, with a strong customer heritage, especially in the motor insurance space.

"General Accident fits the bill perfectly. And because it is already well-known by consumers, General Accident's strong brand will help us keep marketing costs - and premiums - low, which we know is what online shoppers are looking for."

General Accident's origins could be traced to the General Accident and Employers' Liability Assurance Association that was founded in Perth, Scotland in 1885. It became the General Accident Assurance Corporation in 1891.


These are four that sprung to mind. Are there any other notable ones that you can think off? If so please comment below.

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